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  • Question

  • hello will

     

    I am still wondering what to do about developing a career in IT as their is so many confusing info on the internet and I am trying to decide what to do. first thing of all is I understand allot of employers requirements are that you have a degree I don't know if this needs to be in IT or not.

     

    The first thing I wish to talk about is degrees I have been offered only 30 credits towards an open university degree in IT  and computing based on this I would have to study it for around 4 years at least part time however I have been offered 240 credits towards an open degree.

     

    I am contemplating which to do I don't like the idea of doing it for 5 years basically if I did IT as a subject it would take me  5 years part time to complete a degree.

     

    If I do the open degree as I all ready have a HND in design communications and because of this the open university have awarded me 240 credits towards an open degree which is not a named degree as such. clearly this means I could get a degree in 2 years part time or 1 year full time.

     

    I am really unsure which would be best to get for me currently would not having an IT degree stop me from being able to get an IT job?

     

    Also I am really unsure about what courses would be a good decision for me to do for example the A++ or the mcsa, mcse courses I have seen some that are done by computeach but when I called to discuss my problems here they seemed to try to sell me a sales pitch.

     

    computeach told me the fee was £1700 to do the Microsoft certified courses and the A++ for 12 months subscription which seemed to me they were trying to do the hard sell.

     

    I am really unsure what is the best path to follow clearly allot of employers are demanding a degree but  I am not convinced being Microsoft certified would get me a good paying job what do you know about the best way to break in and what is the job employment prospects out their.

     

    Is the fact I have 2 years experience administrating a picking and load system at asda home shopping a good thing to have on my CV computeach was saying it would not really show any thing to an employer.

     

    since you have allot of experience I would like your opinion what would be the best step forward to develop a career clearly I cant go any where with in super market any more its a case who you know rather than how hard you work.

     

    thanks paul.

    Monday, July 4, 2011 11:01 PM

Answers

  • Hi Paul-

     

    There are a lot of different ways to break into IT and be successful.  Everybody may have an idea or two that will prove useful to you and others trying to break in.  Here are some of my thoughts in response to your questions:

    • Are you looking to quickly move up in IT from tech/engineer to management?  If so, you should acquire a degree.  If not, you shouldn't.  A degree is typically not required and very few organizations require a degree for a typical IT job.  However, there are exceptions - mostly in engineering (mechnical, electrical) or development (employers love to see Computer Science degrees for development jobs).  In a typical IT job such as a desktop technician or a systems administrator, a degree won't prove very useful if you plan on sticking around in non-management jobs for your career.  The way I typically approach the question with others... is I calculate estimated earnings for 4 years if an IT job is immediately acquired and extrapolate that throughout a career (so, for example, if a guy jumps in now, in 5 years he will be making XXX... while if he jumps in 5 years from now, he'll be making YYY but have more potential in management).  In this regard, a degree will bring debt for most, and slow down the earning potential for a long time.  You may not be at a break even point for 20 years or more (and that's assuming you go into management to earn extra dollars later).  You will not have trouble getting a job without a degree.  However, like anybody without experience, your first few jobs will be the entry level jobs where you can earn experience.
    • The path that I think works well is starting the learning on the hardware side (how to build a computer, how to troubleshoot hardware problems) - programs such as A+.  Then move into the client operating systems (Windows XP, Windows 7) and learning how to properly install and maintain those systems - programs that lead you toward MCTS certification.  Thereafter, move into servers and applications - Windows Server 2008 R2 and Active Directory, for example.  Typically, at that point, you'll be at a crossroads.  You can continue on that path and move onto Exchange, security, or other advanced areas or you can use the foundation you have and branch out into networking or a niche.  But that foundation will be a key to your success.  It is imperative to understand how things work at the lowest levels before tackling the higher levels.  Once you choose, I highly recommend continuing the certfications and achieve the MCITP or similar.
    • Breaking in requires a base knowledge.  There are really 3 ways to obtain that knowledge.  You can take a 4 year degree program in Computer Science to gain a foundation (although such a foundation is really most useful in development work, not systems administration).  Secondly, you can jump into a trade school (similar to a plumber or electrician school, except it would be for IT).  A trade school might last anywhere from a few months to maybe a year.  Most of the trade schools lead toward certification and will give you a solid foundation.  Trade schools are probably the fastest way in and are especially useful for people that don't have a lot of self-motivation.  Finally, the third way is self-study.  Self-study requires a self-motivated individual.  Self-study is a lot of time, a lot of effort.  However, it is the  most flexible, the cheapest, and can even be the fastest with the right person!  I have several friends and colleagues that have gone down each of the 3 paths.  And what do I see?  The end result is typically tied to the individual himself/herself, not to the path.  If you plan on diving in head first, giving it everything you have, and sticking with it, you will have success.  The path really won't matter.  My suggestion is to pick up an A+ book and read it, play around with a bit of hardware, and make sure you are excited and ready.  Then do it.  I have had friends that started down the self-study path, couldn't get into it, and then give up within a few weeks.  The good news?  They invested $50 and a few hours and weren't stuck with a huge college or trade school tuition.

    Regarding your CV/resume, my opinion is to put all of  your adult work experience on it.  Even if the job isn't directly relevant, employers can pick up valuable information such as that you stayed at a job for 2 years, that you worked in a certain type of organization, or maybe it sparks some mutual interst or conversation.  By the way, I'm in the U.S. and what I describe is my experience in the U.S. - I can't comment directly on other areas with much authority.

    Hope that helps!

    Brian

    Tuesday, July 5, 2011 6:49 AM